Friday, November 28, 2008

Why Natural Toys?

With Thanksgiving behind us and the beginning of the December holiday season beginning today, I wanted to take a minute to share this thoughtful explanation from Hazelnut Kids on why they sell natural toys...and why I focus most of my toy finds on them for Ugga Mugga.

A good friend of mine and I discuss quite often the benefits we find in non-electronic toys that are back to basics. And year after year, she expresses her desire for her in-laws to share this same focus. I thought that posting the following for readers in a similar situation could, perhaps, be forwardable for family to read...and would, hopefully, encourage them to switch gears this holiday season and see the wonderful benefits of natural toys...for our children and our environment.

Children's Imagination
  • Toys without batteries invite open-ended play - the type of play that fosters creativity and keeps the child interested in the toy for many years.
  • Open-ended toys inspire a child to imagine the countless possibilities for that toy, and all the while the child is focusing on just that toy. Their thoughts are not jumping from one toy to the next as often occurs when the toys think for the child.
  • Natural toys allow for 'downtime.' It is difficult for a child to switch gears from a very active toy to resting, whereas simple toys allow for a natural progression to rejuvenating activities such as reading books, daydreaming, or napping.
Children's Mental Health
  • Toys with battery-generated special effects can over-stimulate children. The combination of blinking lights, loud sounds or music, and automated movement can be too much information for a small child to process.
  • Pressing one button to make lights blink and sounds appear merely teaches a child simple cause and effect and passes up a wonderful opportunity to encourage more creative play on the child's part.
  • The environment is completely different in a room with natural toys than in a room with battery-operated plastic toys - quieter, more beautiful, and inviting in a very different way, and the child is calmer because of it.
  • Adults and children are drawn to nature and to products created from natural materials. Holding something made of wood has a positive psychological effect on a person. We see this in action as friends of our store pick up a smooth, wooden rattle - they move it around in their hands and play with it without thinking. But picking up a plastic rattle, after it has been shaken once, fails to hold a person's interest.
Children's Physical Health
  • Studies have shown that certain plastics may negatively affect health. For instance, states that, "phthalates are added to PVC (polyvinyl chloride) to make it soft and flexible. Some phthalates have been linked to cancer, kidney and liver damage, harm to developing reproductive organs, and premature breast development in baby girls. Inhaling these chemicals can also worsen asthma in children. Phthalates are not bonded to the plastic, but can migrate, or leach out."
  • Pesticides and fertilizers are used on conventionally grown (non-organic) cotton, and chemicals are often used in the production process. These harmful chemicals not only impact those who buy conventionally-grown cotton, but those within miles of where they are used, as they drift in the wind, fall back to the ground in rain and snow, and leach into groundwater.
  • cites that, "Of the top 15 pesticides used on cotton crops, 7 are considered "possible," "likely," "probable," or "known" human carcinogens by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."
  • Due to children's small size and their propensity to "mouth" or cuddle everything, plastic and non-organic products, with the risks shown above, could pose serious health threats to children.
Environmental Health
  • Wooden and bamboo toys are durable so they last longer than their plastic counterparts and therefore there is less waste. When the time does come to retire your toys, wood and bamboo are recyclable, replenishable resources so you can rest assured that their disposal will be gentle to our Earth.
  • Children are drawn to natural toys and have more respect for them so they tend to care for them better than other toys. This also leads to less waste.
  • Bamboo is a giant natural grass that can grow to over 100 feet. Once cut, bamboo grows back completely in only three years. It is said to grow as fast as 1 foot per day! Thus, bamboo has economical and ecological values to the world, particularly as it is used instead of certain woods.
  • The chemicals used in non-organic cotton farming harm not only the land, but also flora and fauna for miles around.

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